Rube Goldberg’s Simple Normal Humdrum School Day

Ages: 5 - 7Publisher: Abrams Books for Young Readers Author: Jennifer GeorgeIllustrator: Ed Steckley


Rube Goldberg does all the things many kids do on a school day. Wake up, eat breakfast, get dressed, catch the bus, and do his homework. Simple and humdrum, as the title indicates. Except, of course, that Rube Goldberg is based on the engineer-turned-cartoonist who became famous for his drawings of kooky, complex, and hilariously pointless machines.

Rube Goldberg’s “easy” way to get dressed involves dropping an iron onto an air pump, which inflates a beach ball, which pushes dirty laundry into a basket, which pulls on strings to work a pair of pliers and drop a shirt. Each step of Rube’s day naturally requires a different machine, complete with a schematic diagram; and, of course, each machine promises to be “effortless,” “no-brainer,” or “goof-proof.”

Designed to make young readers laugh, each two-page spread reveals a precarious machine that clearly took Rube considerably more work to design than it would have taken him to simply get dressed and walk out the door. Readers can trace the workings of most of the machines visually, but if they’re curious to know how a hair dryer is supposed to make the next part of the machine move, they must read the brief, quasi-technical diagram explaining how the wet towel next to it will lose water weight and cause the lever to shift its balance. A delight for readers of all ages.

Naomi Lesley ©2018 Parents’ Choice

Naomi Lesley taught middle and high school English for six years. She is currently in a doctoral program at the George Washington University, focusing on American young adult literature.

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